Richard Sibbes: Conduit

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Richard Sibbes: Conduit

Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Luke 12:32

“God’s children have these outward things with God Himself, they are conduits to convey His favor; and the same love that moved God to give us heaven and eternal happiness, also leads Him to give us our daily bread.”

Richard Sibbes in Divine Meditations and Holy Contemplations #6 (London: J. Buckland, 1875) 10.

I returned safely home from overseas and give thanks to God for a fruitful trip. Thanks for your prayers for me. Today  Sammy flies to Iowa to be with his fiancé, Emily as she graduates from Northwestern in Orange City on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Jenni and I are flying to San Diego tomorrow to celebrate two graduations from San Diego Christian College on Saturday, our daughter, Sophie, and her fiancé, Peter. Their wedding date is set for 20 January 2020.

They got great grades and received a handful of awards from the school, for which we are proud of them. More importantly, they served as generous conduits of God’s favor and love. We are so proud of them.

They live within their means. They trust God for daily bread. So much blessing flows through them that fellow students voted them the “power couple” of the year. Way to go Sophie and Peter! Faithful conduits!

We see “the same love” and generosity in Sammy and Emily. Their wedding date is set at 26 October 2019. Though their relationship has not lasted as long, their maturity has really blessed us. This will be a weekend of celebration.

Are you a loving conduit of God’s favor? Do you trust God for daily bread to enjoy and share? Or is your conduit clogged causing God’s blessings to stay with you? Do do the latter as it only leads to poverty!

One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed. Proverbs 11:24-25

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Gerhard Uhlhorn: Regular System of Charity

All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. Acts 4:32-35

“The opinion as to the world before the Christian era, that it was a world without love, requires some explanation, and in a certain sense some modification as well. Of isolated acts springing from natural pity there was never any want…The main point is this, that there is no trace whatsoever of any organized charity. It is not that here and there Christians gave gifts to the poor, or that they here and there assisted those in distress: the new thing, the thing hitherto unknown in the world, was rather that in the Christian communities there was organized a regular system of charity, designed not only to relieve the distress of the poor for the moment, but also to war against poverty itself, and to suffer no one to be oppressed by want.”

Gerhard Uhlhorn in Christian Charity in the Ancient Church (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1883) 4-5.

The ancient world was a place where people gave random hand-outs but the Church would set itself apart in “a world without love” by organizing “a regular system of charity” so that those who suffered got a hand-up in the name of Jesus.

Why explore this aspect of generosity? In my work with Global Trust Partners, I travel to many developing countries where there are “isolated acts” of giving but like the first century, they have virtually no training and few systems of charity making known the love of Christ.

I find inspiration to help them from the early church. When the Church follows the teachings of Jesus in community, something happens. Rather than give hand-outs that create dependencies, we see the early church give hand-ups to help people out of poverty.

That’s what GTP is doing around the world. By offering biblical teaching and replicable systems of training to trustworthy workers, we can give them a hand-up to build disciples. In so doing, we position them to shine and show God’s love in settings without love.

I am starting my journey home from Cairo now (pictured above): 10 flights in 10 days in India, UAE, and Egypt. By God’s grace I got to pour into 100 influential workers. As the saying goes, rather than giving these workers a fish and feeding them for a day, I taught them how to fish to feed them for a lifetime.

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Connie and Dana Potvin: I Am With You

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

As I pursue the vision of Global Trust Partners which is multiplying disciples of faithful administration and catalyzing peer accountability groups to increase gospel participation in every nation, I come to grips with the fact that it is indescribably rewarding work, and yet it requires great sacrifice.

My schedule is long days, great people, arduous travel, unforgettable experiences, and lots of time alone. But God has reminded me in Dubai (yes, that the Burj Khalifa pictured above) that I am not alone. Because our God is so kind and so generous, He reminded me that He is with me with this song from a friend. I pray it blesses you. Click to listen.

I Am With You by Calling Glory

Before I begin I just want to say,
that I love you in every way
You thought I had left you, you thought I was gone,
When I’ve been right here all along

And the fact is I remember,
every little prayer you’ve said
And every tear you’ve cried,
when you thought you were alone

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you
I am with you

And every time you feel you’re far away
Not looking inside this humble arms of grace
I see that you’re running I know that you’re scared
But if you’d lift your eyes you would know I’m there

When the fact is I remember,
every little prayer you’ve said
And every tear you’ve cried,
when you thought you were alone

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

Oh you’re not too far,
that I don’t see where you are
Even in the depths I am there
And if you’d come and call my name,
you would never be the same
I want you to know that I care

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you
I am with you
I am with you
Don’t you know that I am with you

Songwriters: Connie and Dana Potvin

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Connie and Dana Potvin: I Am With You

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age. Matthew 28:19-20

As I pursue the vision of Global Trust Partners which is multiplying disciples of faithful administration and catalyzing peer accountability groups to increase gospel participation in every nation, I come to grips with the fact that it is indescribably rewarding work, and yet it requires great sacrifice.

My schedule is long days, great people, arduous travel, unforgettable experiences, and lots of time alone. But God has reminded me in Dubai (yes, that the Burj Khalifa pictured above) that I am not alone. Because our God is so kind and so generous, He reminded me that He is with me with this song from a friend. I pray it blesses you. Click to listen.

I Am With You by Calling Glory

Before I begin I just want to say,
that I love you in every way
You thought I had left you, you thought I was gone,
When I’ve been right here all along

And the fact is I remember,
every little prayer you’ve said
And every tear you’ve cried,
when you thought you were alone

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you
I am with you

And every time you feel you’re far away
Not looking inside this humble arms of grace
I see that you’re running I know that you’re scared
But if you’d lift your eyes you would know I’m there

When the fact is I remember,
every little prayer you’ve said
And every tear you’ve cried,
when you thought you were alone

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

Oh you’re not too far,
that I don’t see where you are
Even in the depths I am there
And if you’d come and call my name,
you would never be the same
I want you to know that I care

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you in the night,
I’m never that far right by your side
In the darkness and the light,
I am with you, I am with you

I am with you
I am with you
I am with you
Don’t you know that I am with you

Songwriters: Connie and Dana Potvin

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Hudson Taylor: Helpless Dependence

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you. Isaiah 41:13

“God wants you to have something far better than riches and gold, and that is helpless dependence upon Him.”

Attributed to Hudson Taylor (1832-1905).

Do you live with “helpless dependence” on God? Some might say you are reckless or even crazy if you do. But who is the crazy one? Isn’t it the person who stores up riches and gold in the sight of the living God is watching?

When I travel to foreign countries, especially new places I have never been, I get that “helpless dependence” feeling. I had it last night upon arrival in Dubai. It leads me to pray perpetually and trust God to guide and care for me.

Perhaps, you can relate. You think to yourself, “Lord, what should I do?” And the best part, you are not only not alone, you are cared for providentially better than you could care for yourself. But I confess, I feel this way far less often at home.

Where am I going with this idea? What does it have to do with generosity? At home, we gravitate to comfort, a groove. We try to manage life as if we are in control. Consequently, we often put our trust in money as the power to sustain us.

I am learning, especially as God has me doing so much international travel, that “helpless dependence” is a place of peace and provision. Sometimes there’s suffering too, but I also have His presence with me so I can navigate any situation.

If you are not living with “helpless dependence” know that God wants so much more for you and your existence. He wants you to grasp abundant life, but taking hold of it is only found in enjoying and sharing everything!

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Amy Carmichael: Fearless and Selfless

And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again. 2 Corinthians 5:15

“If I am afraid to speak the truth lest I lose affection, or lest the one concerned should say, “You do not understand”, or because I fear to lose my reputation for kindness; if I put my own good name before the other’s highest good, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”

Amy Carmichael (1867-1951) in If: What do I Know of Calvary Love? (Fort Washington: CLC, 2011) 26.

Kindness interfaces in a powerful way with generosity in the the thinking of Amy Carmichael, famous missionary to India. Calvary love transforms how we interface with everyone.

Carmichael reminds us that in light of Calvary and the love that Christ has shown us, we must be fearless to speak the truth and selfless to show the love extended to us in Jesus Christ.

Are you fearless like our Lord Jesus Christ? Sometimes I fail because I let fear of what others will think of me dictate my behavior. I must be fearless to show Calvary love.

Are you selfless like our Lord Jesus Christ? Sometimes I fail because I am focused on myself rather than the needs of others. I must be selfless to show Calvary love.

Christ be with me, here in India and all over the world, to speak the truth and show Your love in a manner that is fearless and selfless. In your mercy, hear my prayer and make it so. Amen.

As I gazed at the beauty of the Taj Mahal — a breath-taking wonder of the world — I realized that it pales compared to the eternal home that Jesus is preparing for us thanks to Calvary love.

However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him. 1 Corinthians 2:9

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William Carey: Hold the Ropes

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

“When the Baptist Missionary Society was formed in 1792, and their first missionary, Mr Carey, chosen, the remark was made by some one of the gentlemen, “There is a gold mine in India, but it seems almost as deep as the centre of the earth; who will venture down to explore it?” “I will venture to go down,” said Carey to his brethren, “but you must hold the ropes.” And they all engaged to do so.

What did they and he mean? Why, by “the gold mine” they meant there were many precious souls in India that wanted saving and setting high in heaven. By “going down into the mine,” they meant going there to try to save and bless these souls. And by “holding the ropes” they meant the work that those that were left behind at home would have to do to help the missionaries that should be abroad.”

William Carey (1761-1834) missionary to India, in “Holding the Ropes” in The Children’s missionary newspaper, volume 7 (Gall and Inglis; Edinburgh, 1850) 7.

It is fitting to find inspiration from Carey as I serve EFAC India in New Delhi today. With the same zeal of this pioneer missionary, I urge you to spend yourself in one of two ways: to save or bless others in challenging places at home or abroad or hold the ropes for those who are.

Those who sacrifice comfort and safety, who risk disease and danger, all for the sake of loving and serving others in the name of Jesus, need faithful people to spot them. Rather than live your life for yourself, give your life to God in either such sacrificial service or support.

For my part, the greatest encouragement I hear in my global travels comes in the form of two simple words: with you. I love it when people track with me and remind me that they are holding the ropes for me, as I give my life in service to others in the name of Jesus.

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Mother Teresa: Mistakes in kindness

Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

“I prefer you to make mistakes in kindness than work miracles in unkindness.”

Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997). I just had to quote her on kindness, on this, my first visit to Kolkata, the city where she served our Lord Jesus Christ.

The receptivity to biblical teaching on “governance and accountability” has far exceeded expectations. Thanks for your generous intercession for me.

I praise God for this, as I am just trying to teach with kindness and love. What a privilege to serve my beloved brothers and sisters of EFAC India.

Whatever you do today, do it with kindness and love. And, if you mess up, because we all do, keep that kindness flowing. Sometimes the light of Christ shines best through our cracks.

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Hannah Hurnard: Are you Much-Afraid?

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of Him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15

“It would indeed be best for you to leave the Valley for the High Places, and I will very willingly take you there myself. The lower slopes of those mountains on the other side of the river are the borderland of my Father’s Kingdom, the Realm of Love. No Fears of any kind are able to live there because ‘perfect love casteth out fear and everything that torments.’” Much-Afraid stared at him in amazement. “Go to the High Places,” she exclaimed, “and live there? Oh, if only I could!

Hannah Hurnard in Hinds’ Feet on High Places (Carol Stream: Tyndale, 1975) 7-8.

Today’s post comes from a classic allegory that portrays the journey of God’s children to press on to new heights of Christian maturity. If you have not read it, click above to download the PDF. It is the story of a young woman, Much Afraid, and her journey from her Fearing family and into the High Places of the Shepherd, and she travels there with two companions, Sorrow and Suffering.

God brought this allegory to my mind as I was praying for those I am serving here in India. Meetings went well in Mumbai, then I speak Hyderabad on Wednesday, Kolkata on Thursday, and New Delhi on Friday. Those I am serving are drawn not merely by the knowledge I am sharing but that the truth comes with love, perfect love that casts out fear and inspires them to move to the High Places.

Are you Much-Afraid? Seriously, does your generosity reflect that you live like you believe the Father’s promises are true and that He cares for you better than you could ever dream of caring for yourself. I find that when ministry leaders administrate in fear, it reflects the reality of their own situations. Fear dominates their own lives. They aim to avoid rather than embrace Sorrow and Suffering.

Those I have served here have thanked me for helping release them from the fear with truth spoken with love. I pray that wherever you are, if you are reading this, that you will head to the High Places. Live in the realm of love. Do this and with Sorrow and Suffering you will realize that you are on this earth to enjoy and share the abundant blessings of the Father. That’s kind and generous living at its best.

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Charles Haddon Spurgeon: An Opened Heart

One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. Acts 16:14

“The Lord Himself must open the heart, to receive the things which make for our peace. He alone can put the key into the hole of the door and open it, and get admittance for Himself. He is the heart’s master as He is the heart’s maker. The first outward evidence of the opened heart was obedience. As soon as Lydia had believed in Jesus, she was baptized. It is a sweet sign of a humble and broken heart, when the child of God is willing to obey a command which is not essential to her salvation, which is not forced upon her by a selfish fear of condemnation, but is a simple act of obedience and of communion with her Master. The next evidence was love, manifesting itself in acts of grateful kindness to the apostles. Love to the saints has ever been a mark of the true convert. Those who do nothing for Christ or His Church, give but sorry evidence of an “opened” heart. Lord, evermore give me an opened heart.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892) in Morning and Evening: Daily Readings (Grand Rapids, MI: CCEL) evening reading for 10 December.

Do you have “an opened heart” like Lydia? Does it show by your obedience and love?

I have made it safely to Mumbai, India where I will speak to the first of four groups in four days tomorrow and encourage ministries to apply for accreditation with EFAC, the peer accountability group in India, like ECFA in the USA. Pray for safety and Spirit-filled speaking.

I will speak on “Governance and Accountability” and make remarks from two of my ECFA Press books, The Council: A Biblical Perspective on Board Governance and The Choice: The Christ-Centered Pursuit of Kingdom Outcomes. Pray for many people to attend with opened hearts.

Lord, evermore give me an opened heart that manifests obedience and love with grateful kindness.

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